News: Boy Scouts learns skills from soldiers as they earn merit badges
Story by Spc. Cassandra Simonton
CAMP GRAFTON, N.D. - Three troops of about 30 Boy Scouts from Bismarck and Fargo, N.D., traveled to Camp Grafton in Devils Lake March 9-11 to receive merit badge training from the soldiers of the North Dakota National Guard's Regional Training Institute.
Volunteer soldiers from the North Dakota National Guard's (NDNG) 164th Regional Training Institute instructed the Boy Scouts, ages 10 to 16, on matters of plumbing and other household repairs. The young men were given hands-on training and allowed to experiment with soldering pipes, wiring houses for electricity, and assembling and repairing bathroom fixtures such as toilettes and sinks. Along with these skills, the boys gained familiarity with a number of tools, from blow torches for soldering together pipes, to a variety of table saws for cutting wood.
"The beliefs that the Guard and the Boy Scouts hold dear are the same," said Paul Zent, an assistant with Boy Scout Troop 11, out of Bismarck. "It's great that these guys who look up to the soldiers get to see all of the opportunities the Guard offers."
This is the second year in a row the Boy Scouts have been invited to Devils Lake to receive the training, and they hope to make it an annual event. The boys that were able to attend last year used the classrooms available for instruction in other merit badge areas such as astronomy and electricity.
Sgt. 1st Class Gregory McGath, an instructor with the 164th Regional Training Institute said he greatly enjoyed the opportunity to help educate the Boy Scouts. "They are all giving their full one hundred percent attention to the instructors," said McGath. "They really enjoy the instruction and are eager to learn."
Zent agreed that the boys were very interested in what the instructors had to teach. "The enthusiasm of the instructors just shines through the eagerness of the kids," he said.
The 164th RTI provides year-round fully accredited military engineer specialty and non-commissioned officer training for Reserve Component engineers nationwide. The unit is also responsible for Officer Candidate School training primarily for North Dakota soldiers, in order to prepare soldiers to meet their wartime and peacetime missions.